How to Lanolize Wool Diaper Covers + Basic Wool Care

Wool is the best all-natural alternative to PUL/TPU plastic diaper covers. However, families stay away simply because they’re not sure when or how to lanolize wool diaper covers or how to wash them regularly. In reality – it’s so simple, takes only a few minutes, and only needs to be done every 3-4 weeks!

Wool diaper covers are great for sensitive skin as they are naturally antibacterial, temperature regulating, and remain very breathable while wicking moisture away from the skin. Lanolizing them as needed restores these properties and keeps them resilient. They’re so much softer and gentler than typical plastic covers and are very easy to care for.

Let’s break down how to lanolize wool diaper covers together.

How to lanolize and wash wool diaper covers

RELATED: If you’re looking for cloth diaper inserts to pair with your wool diaper covers, I also wrote a whole article comparing the differences between inserts and how to layer them!

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What you will need

Washing vs lanolizing a wool diaper cover

Washing a wool diaper cover is simply soaking it in water and mild soap, whereas lanolizing a wool cover is a separate step that infuses lanolin back into the wool with a melted lanolin mixture. You can use a lanolin-rich wool wash in place of mild soap when washing your covers, which will infuse some lanolin back into the wool with each wash. When you use lanolin wash, your wool diaper cover lasts longer before needing to be lanolized. 

RELATED: See our list of the 5 best wool diaper covers and learn more about the benefits of wool.

How often should I wash my diaper wool covers?

Your wool cover can be air-dried between uses for weeks before needing to be washed, however, if it becomes soiled, you will need to wash your wool diaper cover earlier. If only a small part of the wool diaper cover is soiled, you can spot-clean (instructions below) to avoid a full wash routine.

Adding lanolin back into wool enhances its antibacterial and anti-microbial properties. So, If your wool diaper cover begins to smell like urine after it’s been fully air dried, it’s a good sign that you not only need to wash them but lanolize them.

With a 3 wool cover stash, washing and lanolizing are usually needed every 3-4 weeks but may stretch longer if using a lanolin wash for wool. 

When should I lanolize my wool diaper covers?

It’s time to lanolize if your wool diaper cover remains smelly after being air-dried or it leaks. A leak is considered visible wet spots on sheets or clothing. Cool dampness is completely normal and to be expected with a wool diaper cover. It just means that it’s ready to be air-dried for its next use.

If using a mild soap to cleanse a wool diaper cover instead of a lanolin wash, families will need to lanolize with every wash as the above symptoms will happen much quicker.

Continue reading to learn exactly how to lanolize wool diaper covers.

Toddler in a wool diaper cover

Lanolin wash or mild soap?

Lanolin wash is formulated specifically to optimize and cleanse wool fibers, so a lanolin wash for wool is recommended, but not necessary. You can use any gentle soap such as mild baby shampoo, olive oil bar soap, ivory bar soap, or soaps such as Dr. Bronners. 

Using a lanolin wash over a gentle soap simply makes your wash routine a little easier. Not only will you need to lanolize less often, but some lanolin wash brands don’t even require rinsing, taking that extra step out of your wash routine altogether.

No matter your choice, you will also need pure lanolin to lanolize your wool diaper covers with. 

Always avoid regular detergents as they will strip lanolin out of your wool. Do not use Woolite or other commercial wool detergents on a wool diaper cover.

How to wash a wool diaper cover

Hand wash method

Submerge wool covers in a small dish tub or sink for 15-30 minutes in lukewarm water with a little lanolin wool wash or a few drops of gentle soap. Squeeze covers a few times in your soapy water, then rinse the diaper covers under the tap or in a different wash tub (unless using a no-rinse wash). Gently press the water out of the wool diaper covers and lay them flat to dry away from sunlight for 24 hours. 

If the cover smells strongly of ammonia, you can add a tablespoon of vinegar to your water.

For quicker drying, gently roll your wool diaper covers inside a towel or layer a second towel over the first and press the wool between towels. Never stretch or rub wool when it is wet.

Spot cleaning

If you happen to get a small part of your wool cover soiled, you can simply spot-clean the area with gentle soap and lukewarm water. Don’t forget to rinse the area. It is so easy and only takes a few minutes if you clean it right away. Then, lay flat to dry before your next use.

Machine wash

Most wool diaper covers require hand washing, so if unsure, always confirm with the manufacturer prior to machine washing a wool diaper cover. If machine washable, diaper covers may be machine washed cold on a gentle cycle, then laid flat to dry for about 24 hours.  Never use fabric softener or any products that may contain bleach.

If you will be lanolizing your wool diaper cover, do not dry it, just set it aside. A wet diaper is optimal when lanolizing.

How to lanolize a wool diaper cover

Lanolizing a wool diaper cover is easy and can be done after only 15 minutes of soaking. 

How to lanolize wool diaper covers with the bath method

  1. Begin with clean, wet wool. 
  2. Fill a small container halfway with hot water and add 1/2 teaspoon of lanolin for every wool cover being lanolized. To avoid uneven lanolizing, you can add 2-3 drops of gentle soap or wool wash to the mixture. 
  3. Mix (or shake if using a container with a lid) until the lanolin has been fully dissolved and the mixture appears cloudy. 
  4. Fill a washtub or sink with just enough lukewarm water to fully submerge all diaper covers, then add the lanolin mixture. 
  5. Place your wool diaper covers into the water inside out and make sure they stay fully submerged. Allow them to sit for at least 15 minutes. 
  6. After soaking, gently squeeze excess water out (your hands may get tacky), then roll them between two towels to get even more moisture out. Let them dry flat, away from sunlight for about 24 hours.

How much lanolin?

You may like your wool cover more absorbent with less lanolin or you may like it more water-resistant with extra lanolin. That’s something you’ll figure out along the way, but a general rule of thumb is to use a pea-sized amount of up to 1 teaspoon of lanolin for each cover you will be washing.

Lanolin spots?

Make sure you thoroughly mix the lanolin into the hot water until there is no oily lanolin floating on top, otherwise you risk getting lanolin spots on your covers. There is no problem with lanolin spots other than their unsightly look. If you do run into lanolin spots, don’t worry! Just use your diaper as you normally would and they will disappear over a few wears.

The wool diaper covers may come out of the bath feeling tacky, but should no longer feel tacky once they’re completely dry. If it’s still tacky, you may have over-lanolized (more below).

How to lanolize wool diaper covers using the dry-lanolizing method

Begin with clean wool. Turn your wool cover inside out and rub a small amount of lanolin between your hands to liquify the lanolin. Gently massage the lanolin onto the inside of the diaper cover focusing on the wet zone. This is not as effective as the above method but can work in a pinch.

Other popular lanolin methods include a lanolin spray, lanolin bars, and lanolin cubes.

What if you over-lanolize wool?

If your wool becomes sticky or tacky after it is thoroughly air-dried, it’s been over-lanolized. Over-lanolized wool will become too waterproof and struggle to absorb moisture. To help fix this,  soak your wool in water. Do not use hot water as this may damage the wool. Your wool diaper cover may still feel a little sticky but it will go away with a few uses.

An alternative is to use a VERY small amount of regular laundry detergent in your water soak. However, this will remove a lot of lanolin and you may need to re-lanolize afterward.

You need pure lanolin and lanolin wash or baby soap to start lanolizing wool. I use Eucalan wool wash as my preferred soap but I’ve made a post about our top 4 lanolin wash picks and why they’re excellent!

You can also find all the supplies you need to lanolize wool at Lagoon Baby in Canada and Nicki’s Diapers in the USA.

How can I remove stains from wool cloth diaper covers?

If you’ve washed your woolies but there’s a stubborn stain, there are two tried and true methods you can try.

Method one includes adding wool wash directly onto the stain while in the process of washing your wool covers.

Method two includes mixing 1/2 cup of lemon juice with 1/2 cup of water. Pour this mixture directly onto the stain and place the wool cover on a flat surface in the sun for up to 4 hours. Wash your wool covers as per usual. Note that this method may cause your colored wool to fade.


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